Salvage and cleanup
It is important to ensure that, during a marine pollution incident, salvage and cleanup operations do not cause unnecessary damage to the environment.
Salvage operations are led by the Secretary of States' Representative (SOSREP), in accordance with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s National Contingency Plan. The SOSREP takes advice from various groups including the environment group, and has the ultimate decision-making power in an incident. The SOSREP represents the Department for Transport in relation to ships and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in relation to offshore installations.
Where private property is impacted by marine pollution (such as oiling of recreational yachts), it is important to remember that only approved surface cleaners (PDF 92 KB) may be used, and then only with our specific permission.
The Green Blue has more information on cleaning boats.
For a serious marine pollution incident, an environment group (EG) will be set up to provide environmental advice to the SOSREP. There are 14 preformed standing environment groups (SEGs) around the coasts of England and Wales. In addition, Northern Ireland and Scotland each have their own SEG.
SEGs provide information and advice to the SOSREP on topics such as conservation issues, fisheries interests, human health impacts, best environmental practice for disposal of wrecked ships and spoilt cargo, dealing with oiled wildlife and environmental monitoring. SEGs also elect an environmental liaison officer to act as a single point of contact for information regarding an incident.
Membership of SEGs varies between regions to reflect local interests in marine pollution incidents but may include representatives from the following organisations:
- MMO coastal office
- Environment Agency
- Health Protection Agency
- Natural England or Joint Nature Conservation Council or Natural Resources Wales
- local authorities.
Environmental monitoring during and after marine pollution incidents is essential to ensure that the full environmental impacts can be identified, understood, and mitigated.
PREMIAM is a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs-funded initiative to co-ordinate post incident environmental monitoring and composes two parts:
- The development of marine assessment and monitoring guidelines (the PREMIAM Plan).
- The development and maintenance of a network of scientific and logistical partners to deliver the plan (the PREMIAM Network).
Further information is available from the PREMIAM website.
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